Bears Starter Calls Out NFL, Team for ‘Reckless’ Choice

Matt Eberflus

Getty Head coach Matt Eberflus of the Chicago Bears looks on prior to a preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Soldier Field on August 13, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

The Chicago Bears won their preseason debut against the Kansas City Chiefs, 19-14, but the team wound up going viral for all the wrong reasons.

Well before the game began, photos of the shoddy conditions of Soldier Field made the rounds on Twitter. It’s no secret that the Bears are likely planning to leave the stadium in favor of a new one that has yet to be constructed in Arlington Heights, Illinois, but that’s years down the road. In the meantime, they still have to play their home games at Soldier Field, and that could prove dangerous.

The week leading up to the game, singer Elton John held a concert at the legendary venue the week before the game, and it left the field in glaringly bad conditions.

After the game, Bears kicker Cairo Santos had some words about the condition of the field.

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Santos: ‘It’s a Reckless Thing’

“It’s reckless that we have … big-time players on both teams out there, and it’s too bad if the field becomes an issue where there’s an injury and that star is out for the season,” Santos told Jason Lieser of the Chicago Sun-Times. “It’s a reckless thing that they’re not taking care of it.”

“It’s better for me to just accept it and learn how to overcome it, which is what I’ve done, versus whining and making excuses about it,” Santos added. “It hasn’t been something that’s concerned me. … I don’t think that field could cause me to miss kicks.”

That’s true. Santos made 15 of 16 field goal attempts at Soldier Field in 2020 and last season, he made 9 out of 11. But his point about safety is a strong and important one.

Most Bears players seem resigned about it — they know they have to play on the shoddy turf, so they’re not complaining.

“It’s kind of always been like that,” quarterback Justin Fields said after Chicago’s preseason win over Kansas City, noting the field was in better condition during the team’s first preseason game than it was during family fest on Tuesday, August 9. “I’m just glad it was better than it was earlier this week because it wasn’t the best. The grass could definitely be better, for sure.”

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Others Call Out Poor Quality of Soldier Field

Former Cleveland Browns center J.C. Tretter, a free agent who is currently serving as president of the NFL Players Association, also chimed in on Twitter:

“The NFL said that this field met minimum testing standards. We clearly need to re-evaluate what is an acceptable surface for players to compete on. We need new testing metrics looking at the performance and safety of every field. The NFL can and should do better.”

NFL agent David Canter, who represents three Bears players (safeties DeAndre Houston-Carson and Dane Cruikshank, along with defensive lineman Khyiris Tonga) also shared some critical thoughts on Twitter:

Chiefs coach Andy Reid chimed in, too:

For his part, Bears head coach Matt Eberflus played the diplomatic newbie card. “I’m new here so I don’t know the situations, but I know the guys are trying to do their best, and the playing surface was passed by the NFL for us to be on,” Eberflus said after the game. “I thought it was firm and it was good, so that’s where we’ll leave it at.”

Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune noted that while more concerts are set to be held at the stadium in the coming weeks, the city still plans on getting the field in better shape by the time the regular season rolls around.

Based on the attention the field conditions are getting, however, the league could be hearing from the NFLPA. Stay tuned.

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Adam Kolthoff
Adam Kolthoff
7 months ago

I think for Santos it probably is okay because he is mainly kicking unlike most of the roster that runs and dodges ect on it.

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